Before ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ leaves the IMAX theaters, and yes, the IMAX version is much better and well worth any extra trouble and money, go see this movie, especially if you’re over forty. The over forty will understand this move. The over sixty will groc it.
Bruce Wayne ages. Bruce Wayne is hurt. He limps. He is lied to, condescended to, betrayed. This is standard hero fare, but Christain Bale shows this hurt nakedly. It’s like looking into a mirror, but large, crisp, shot in 72 millimeters. The childhood haunted man, even in his costume, is thrashed. He has come this far in his career, only to be beaten, man to man, head bowed, body broken, and we know how he feels. Bam. Pow. Sock. Someone even more childhood haunted than he has taken his place.
Bruce Wayne’s fortune is lost in the stock market. The orphans are no longer funded. No more IRA. No more interest. And the double identity? It is a red herring. So many characters in the movie figure out who Batman is: his nemesis Bane, the young upstart Blake, Commissioner Gordon, and they are, of course, wounded, too, and warped, young, or compromised versions of the protagonist. Bruce Wayne and Batman are not alter egos, but extensions of one another. The unmasking is a relief. The pain of midlife is stripped bare before us. We age. We fail. We die. It is cathartic to see it before us.
In our vulnerability, we realize that we are not alone. Christopher Nolan, the director, and Christian Bale, the protagonist, give this gift to the audience, especially to the audience over forty.
Of course there are the reversals of the reversals. The crucifixion and the resurrection. The ordeals, the trials of threes. The lost father replacements. The found father replacements. The subplots. The rival females: one who seems good who is bad and one who seems bad who is good. The nemesis who is the alter ego, the foil, who cannot stop reacting to his terrible childhood and like a two year old will kill us all, and the hero, who cannot stop reacting to his terrible childhood and like the responsible child will try to save us all. These tropes are in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ They are in our own lives as well. Will these adult characters survive their childhoods, or will their childhoods outlive them?
What makes this must see viewing for those over forty, despite and because of all the plot twists, cliff hangers, death dealing machinery, and mayhem, is the elegant sense of shared frailty. See it on IMAX while you can. The home TV, no matter how large, will not do the movie justice.